Wednesday, June 12

PUBLIC ART, PUBLIC SPACE - Remember Our Sisters Everywhere

PUBLIC ART, PUBLIC SPACE - Remember Our Sisters Everywhere:

The Story of the Women's Monument
Wed. June 19, 2013
7:00 to 9:00pm
350 West Georgia Street

Vancouver Public Library, Peter Kaye Room
Free event, limited seating
Public Art, Public Space, and the Story of the Women’s Monument is a forum to encourage dialogue about context and public art. Artist Beth Alber and others will share images of Marker of Change, the Women’s Monument, and discuss issues that can arise when location, landscape, public art and values collide.

'via Blog this'

Monday, June 10

Girl, 17, missing after leaving home to visit friends

Jasmine Masse was last seen on Singer Place at about 8 p.m. on Saturday, police say
CBC News
Posted: Jun 10, 2013 5:57 AM ET

A 17-year-old girl has been reported missing after leaving her home on Saturday night to visit friends in South Keys, but never arriving there.

Jasmine Masse, 17, was reported missing on Saturday night.Jasmine Masse, 17, was reported missing on Saturday night. (Police handout)

Jasmine Masse left her home on Singer Place in the south end of the city at about 8 p.m.

She may be in Toronto, Ottawa police said.

Masse is described as standing at about five feet two inches tall and weighing about 130 pounds. She has shoulder-length hair dyed red.

Anyone with information is asked to call Ottawa police at 613-236-1222, ext. 3212.

Saturday, June 8

Vancouver lawyer to make arguments in landmark Supreme Court case




Former sex-trade worker Sheryl Kiselbach, left, and lawyer Katrina Pacey will be in Ottawa next week to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Photograph by: Ian Smith, PNG Files, Vancouver Sun

Six former and current sex workers will accompany a Vancouver lawyer to Ottawa next week to attend a landmark court case challenging Canada's prostitution laws.

Katrina Pacey, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society, and former Vancouver sex worker Sheryl Kiselbach have waged a six-year legal battle to try to overturn the country's sex laws.

When Pacey appears before the Supreme Court of Canada on June 13, she'll make arguments to support a case by Ontario dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, who wants to strike down laws that prohibit operating bawdy houses, making money from prostitution, and communicating in public to sell sex.

The Ontario case, first launched in 2007, has been heard by two lower courts and will now be settled by Canada's highest court. Pacey will appear on behalf of Pivot, the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) and the PACE Society, a sex-worker support group.

. Vancouver Sun: You refer to this case as a "historic hearing." Why?

Katrina Pacey: It's really about moving away from a criminalization approach to understanding sex workers as a human rights issue, as a health and safety issue, and as a labour issue, and really making sure they have all the safety and rights they deserve. So it's a very major legal shift and kind of a substantial paradigm shift for Canada.

VS: What will be your main legal argument?

KP: Sex workers on the street have been disproportionately targeted by criminal law, and the result has been this epidemic of missing and murdered women in the Downtown Eastside, and violence against street-based sex workers across the country. And what we need is to recognize the harms caused by this law because it pushes them into very dangerous working conditions.

VS: What do the current laws on street-based sex work say?

KP: The act of selling sex and buying sex is a legal activity. What is illegal is communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution. ... The real hypocrisy in the law is that Canada says sex work is fundamentally legal, however it is impossible to do it safely. They've criminalized everything around the core activity.

VS: What has been the federal government's main argument against changing the law?

KP: They say the law is not to blame for violence against sex workers; it is people who choose to prey on them. Our response to that is, of course, we recognize that the violence is perpetrated by men against women who are involved in the sex industry; however the laws exacerbate their vulnerability.

VS: Why are former and current sex workers going to the hearing?

KP: It's their stories and their experiences that matter, and I think their presence before the court is of enormous importance to them because it is going to impact their lives greatly and I want them to feel a part of that.

VS: What is the status of the B.C. case brought by Sheryl Kiselbach?

KP: We need to wait for the outcome of Bedford and see what the court rules, because that will actually answer a bunch of legal questions that are being asked in the B.C. case. .... Then Sherry and SWUAV will see what's left in terms of what Criminal Code provisions remain, what arguments haven't been raised, and be able to carry on from there.

VS: How do you address criticisms that legalizing sex work further exploits vulnerable women?

KP: That's just not what sex workers tell us, or what the evidence tells us. ... Being safe while you are in the industry - not facing egregious violence, not being traumatized, not having a criminal record, not suffering the health consequences of criminalization - will then assist sex workers in making whatever decision is best for them. VS: Are you hopeful the court will change these sex laws?

KP: We are extremely hopeful, the evidence is very strong. ... There's a large number of groups who have lined up - from human rights groups to women's organizations to HIV organizations to the United Nations - who are going to be there to express how important law reform is to protect the human rights of sex workers.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, June 5

“Mom” of the Downtown Eastside Bonnie Fournier dies

Women’s advocate fought for rights of sex trade workers


Former street nurse Bonnie Fournier was at the Missing Women Inquiry, April 16th during the morning session.

Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG

VANCOUVER - Bonnie Fournier, an outspoken advocate for Vancouver’s missing and murdered women in the Downtown Eastside has died.

The psychiatric nurse, who had a passion for helping vulnerable people in the city’s poorest neighbourhood earning her the nicknames of “Mom” and the “Erin Brockovich of the Downtown Eastside,” died on Sunday, according to family.

Her son Paul Fournier announced her death in a Facebook post, describing her as a someone who was a mom to everyone and loved all people unconditionally.

“She fought the biggest fight of her life and won the honour of leaving our physical world with her dignity to a beautiful place where there is neither pain nor suffering; where she can watch proudly over us all,” he wrote.

He also posted a few of his mother’s own words: “I aspire to inspire before I expire.”

And inspire she did. Friends describe her online as a champion for social justice, even fighting for and winning the right to testify at the Missing Women Inquiry. Fournier’s Facebook page on Tuesday was filled with tributes, calling her “a remarkable woman” and “amazing human being.”

Fournier worked for 28 years in the holding cells at the provincial courthouse, and after that, for five years, in a health van that offered late-night medical services to sex-trade workers. As a result, she knew many of the women murdered at the Pickton pig farm in Coquitlam.

She also penned a book entitled Mugged, Drugged and Shrugged: The wrong side of the Eastside. Published in 2010, it chronicles her time patrolling the Downtown Eastside in her van, offering medicine, bandages and a friendly ear to those in need.

Born in Powell River in 1944, Fournier went to Lord Byng secondary school. She graduated as a registered psychiatric nurse in 1966 at the Essondale Hospital in Coquitlam.

In a 2008 interview with The Vancouver Sun’s Lori Culbert, Fournier shed tears when she spoke of the women she had befriended and lost over the decades, such as Sereena Abotsway, one of the six women Robert Pickton was convicted of killing in Port Coquitlam.

She told the Sun that Abotsway visited her every night she worked in the van, to say hi to “Mom” and that when she died it was like losing a daughter.

Fournier advocated for more resources for sex trade workers, including better detox facilities, later hours for drop-in centres, and reinstatement of the health van, which stopped operating in 2004. She also believed in harm reduction sites like Insite, where injection-drug users can shoot up in a clean environment.

With files from The Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, June 4

Well-known Downtown Eastside women’s advocate dies

Bonnie Fournier was a mother figure to sex trade workers

John Ackermann June 4, 2013 7:51 am

bonnie fournier

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – She was known as the Erin Brockovich of the Downtown Eastside for her outspoken defense of Vancouver’s missing and murdered women.

Bonnie Fournier was a registered nurse who ran an outreach van for survival sex trade workers during Robert Pickton’s killing spree, becoming a second mother to many of them.

“There really are very few people like her left on the Downtown Eastside,” admits Ruth Meta, who once ran a nearby laundromat and also knew her from the Neighbourhood Safety Office.

“She saw the women she worked with everyday as her children.”

Meta notes Fournier was one of the first to speak out about women going missing from the neighbourhood, long before police would admit it was a problem.

“Everybody knew that there was a serial killer long before any of the police actually did anything,” says Meta.

“She was speaking out about, ‘Women are going missing! Women are going missing!’ long before anyone was paying attention about women going missing.”

Fournier also made news last year for her fight to testify at the Pickton Inquiry.

She died Sunday morning.

One of her children posted a favourite saying of hers on Facebook: “I aspire to inspire before I expire.” Many in the community would argue she did just that.